ATH Interviews: Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson

mbarA little while back, a favorite artist of ours Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson made his way to town and we had the chance to ask him a few questions about his music.  Not much is known about the up and coming artist so we hope you find this interview to be informative.  Or at least a good read…  Follow the jump for our full interview.

ATH: Your new record Summer of Fear has an entirely different feel than the first album.  Does the movement away from the cacophony demonstrate a change in your music or your personal life?


MBAR: Hmmm… Well, when I was younger it always seemed to me the most enjoyable type of musician to be would be David Bowie or, to a lesser extent Bob Dylan or Elvis Costello.  I like getting inspired by a sound or genre and then putting my own personality on top of it. That’s why I initially decided to start performing under my own name. Having a band these days is about finding a style that pitchfork deems fresh and worthy and then honing it over three albums and then good fucking luck…I just like telling stories to music and I wanted the freedom to tell my stories over whatever music I find relevant or inspiring at any given time.  On the other hand, three of the songs on Summer of Fear were kicking around during the first album sessions…the first song on SoF was supposed to be the last song on the first record. I guess I’m saying I don’t think it’s all that different, plenty of cacophony on both in my opinion. And when it is different it’s just coz I get bored and like a lot of different stuff. I mean, in between recording and mixing the first record, while Grizzly Bear was mixing Yellow House, I made a hip-hop EP I never finished.


ATH: A lot of people drop TV on the Radio in conversations about you?  Aside from the obvious connection, do you feel that it’s a hindrance or a blessing to your career?


MBAR: It depends, Grizzly Bear was probably worse, people came to shows expecting something rather more restrained and polite than I was generally equipped to provide. TV on the Radio got me a lot of exposure before I was a competent performer, but without the touring experience that exposure provided I probably would have remained an unfocused withdrawn drunk of a performer. It’s a mixed bag ya know?


ATH: You have gotten lots of help and praise from fellow New Yorkers (TV on the Radio,Grizzly Bear, etc.) …can you explain how all those associations came to fruition?


MBAR: Not really. Just a bunch of people who believed in me for some reason.  Trying to live up to that a little these days.


ATH: I read somewhere recently that your ability to spin some positivity on hardship makes you akin to Bruce Springsteen.  How do you feel about such lineage? Do you see any similarities? I’ll take that.


MBAR: In terms of similarities I think I ideally would like to function like a Springsteen or a Petty, kinda a singer-songwriter plus band thing. I disliked initially being pegged as some sort of acoustic troubador. I like being able to inject some triumphalism and bombast into my sad-bastard music.


ATH: Your new album has the feeling of a full band affair.  How much of the songs were written as a full band as opposed to fleshed out in the recording process?


MBAR: I’ve never really written with anybody.  I actually had a functioning bar band while writing Summer of Fear as opposed to the first album which I wrote after “quitting bands forever”, so the process of working the songs up was a little different. The drummer was just learning to play drums so we spent a lot of time trying to interpret my rhythmic ideas into actual drum patterns, possibly to the music’s detriment…I am now really into playing with people who are substantially better than me at playing their instrument. But we did demos for this as a four-piece where as the first record was all me home-recording. I did the first version of Buriedfed in 2003 at home playing everything myself, endless over-dubbing. The recording of the first record was kinda just glorified home recording, all acoustic guitar and piano to a click track and then Chris Bear laid down drums and then I spent three weeks overdubbing with Chris Taylor.  This one we did the basic tracks as a band in the studio…and then spent like six weeks overdubbing and mixing. I look at Summer of Fear as the transition to me becoming a semi-proficient live musician and band leader. I wish I was both of those things when we actually tracked the record in December 2007 but, hopefully, I’ll get a shot at that next time around.


ATH: Do you prefer the solo gig to the full band line-up?


MBAR: Absolutely not.


ATH: If you could punch anyone in the music industry in the face, who would it be?


MBAR: Myself a year ago.


ATH: You were sort of an unknown outside the New York area until a few years ago.  Is there anyone you wish to shine a light on, so as to return the favor?


MBAR: I was an unknown until spring of last year actually…and yeah, the Wild Yaks kick ass.


Thanks again for the thoughtful responses Miles.  Hope to see you again next time.

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